Sunday, March 18, 2007

Playing With Crime

So, I've been pretty busy here of late and haven't been really able to post much - which is unfortunate because I really wanted to keep his more current, but that's the way it goes sometime I suppose.

Anyway, I have been thinking about national crime trends recently, and some of them are worrisome. For a whole slew of reasons, experts are thinking we're heading toward another violent crime surge. Hopefully this will be averted, but that is yet to be seen.

I have always felt very safe in Louisville. In very few parts of town have I ever felt uneasy or worried about violence against me - but I have found I am an anomaly. Most people seem to always be worried about the next mugger or murderer who is just around the corner. I usually disregard those people as too easily swayed by the sensationalism they find on WAVE 3 or WLKY. But to make sure I wasn't the foolish one, I wanted some facts and figures to see which way violent crime is moving in Louisville, and perhaps some comparison to other areas.
Violent Crime Numbers from 2005 for Louisville-Jefferson County:

Forcible Rape: 209
Robbery: 1,822
Murder: 55
Aggravated Assault: 1,810

Violent Crime Numbers from 2006 for Louisville-Jefferson County:

Forcible Rape: 217
Robbery: 1,762
Murder: 51
Aggravated Assault: 1,867
TOTAL - 3,897
Based on violent crimes (the ones people are truly scared of) we can see that between 2005 and 2006, Louisville saw no significant changes in it's crime rate - for the better or the worse. (Which is surprising, considering last Fall there were a slew of stories saying how Louisville had fallen into the depths of a massive new crime wave, with robberies being on a major upswing. - that proved false, like so many stories related to crime from the local media)

With the above numbers, we find Louisville having a crime rate of 557.3 incidents of violent crime in 2005 for every 100,000 inhabitants. In 2006 the rate is 557.5 incidents per 100,000 inhabitants. Not a significant change. When compared to other peer cities, we see Louisville ain't doing half bad (2005):

Indianapolis: 989.7
Nashville: 1,602.5
Memphis: 1,857.2
Cincinnati: 1,184.5
Columbus: 837.6
Louisville: 557.3

Again, keep in mind, these are VIOLENT CRIME RATES, not total crime rates. (I tried to pick cities that are near the same size as Louisville, and also encompass at least some suburbs)

The data helped to reinforce my general feelings about crime in Louisville versus other cities - It's not the absolute best place, but it is definitely a safer city than most other peer cities. Memphis particularly amazes me - that is just out of control! Their violent crime rate is obscene.

Besides comparing Louisville to other cities, I also was interested in seeing if the old stereotype is true that the West End is the WORST place in Louisville for violent crime. Surprisingly enough, it was not the worst according to 2006 numbers from Louisville Metro Police - but it was pretty close.

Louisville is divided into 8 Police Divisions, and they encompass the following areas:

The First Division includes the following neighborhoods: Butchertown, Downtown,
Phoenix Hill, Portland and Russell.

The Second Division includes: California, Chickasaw, Hallmark, Park Duvall, Park Hill, Parkland and Shawnee.

The Third Division includes: Auburndale, Iroquois, Iroquois Park, Kenwood Hill, Southland Park and Southside.

The Fourth Division includes: Fairgrounds, Germantown, Iroquois, Limerick, Merriwether, Old Louisville, Schnitzelburg, Shelby Park, South Louisville, University, Wilder Park and Wyandotte.

The Fifth Division include: Belknap, Bonnycastle, Bowman, Brownsboro Zorn, Cherokee Triangle, Clifton, Clifton Heights, Crescent Hill, Highlands, Highlands Douglass, Irish Hill, and Tyler Park.

The Sixth Division includes the following neighborhoods: Audubon, Bashford Manor,
Bon Air, Camp Taylor, Edgewood, Highland Park, Hikes Point, Klondike, Poplar
Level, Prestonia, Saint Joseph, and Standiford.

The Seventh Division includes the following neighborhoods: Fern Creek, Highview and Okolona.

The Eighth Division includes the following neighborhoods: Barbourmeade,
Bellemeade, Briarwood, Douglass Hills, Glenview, Goose Creek, Hurstbourne,
Lyndon, Middletown, Rolling Hills, Westwood, Wildwood, Woodland Hills and
Worthington Hills.

I was surprised to see that according to LMPD, it was the Fourth Division that had he highest number of incidents of violent crime. To me, the Fourth Division is the "South End" of town. With 1,879 incicents of violent crime, it stood well above the "West End" - Second Division - total of 1,302 incidents.

Another surprise to me was to see that the safest division was not some far-flung suburban division, but was the Fifth Division that serves the inner-city neighborhoods of the Highlands and Clifton. With only 407 reported crimes last year, it was "safer" than the Eighth Division which includes the stereotypically safest parts of town like Hurstborne and Middletown.

Overall, the data supported my generally notions of crime in Louisville, with some unexpected surprises. Crime is a social ill that the community must strive to reduce to the lowest levels possible by building a city that offers basic education to all citizens, a job that offers a full day of work for a fair wage, and bestows dignity and respect to all people, regardless of race, economic status, age, religion, or sexual preference. Louisville isn't going to ever be perfect, but these are ideals and things that we certainly can do -now- if we all just wanted to do it.


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